Free ReactOS Windows clone in VirtualBox

ReactOS gives a free, open-source Windows XP API level replacement that can use USB devices. Sometimes Linux users need to use a Windows VM when USB devices are required in Windows programs. ReactOS can work in a VM for older Windows programs with a much smaller install than Microsoft Windows. As time goes on, less and less Windows software is compatible with Windows XP and hence less software is compatible with ReactOS.

Install ReactOS in a virtual machine with the VirtualBox version recommended in ReactOS install procedure. Create a new VM with name “ReactOS”, which should auto-populate needed settings.

When installing, use FAT file system instead of buggy, experimental BTRFS at this time. Disable JavaScript in ReactOS Firefox browser as ReactOS might hang at 100% CPU for JavaScript intensive websites. Type about:config in Firefox address bar and Toggle javascript.enabled to false.

ReactOS advantages vs. Windows:

  • ReactOS installation takes 90% less space than Windows
  • no OS license maintenance with free, open-source ReactOS
  • no licensing worries about making many copies of a working ReactOS install. Get a VM working and copy it to many workstations.
  • ReactOS theme feels like Windows XP, so there are few concerns about transitioning users reluctant to change

ReactOS Limitations:

ReactOS 0.4.x API level is Windows NT 5.2 (Windows 2003 / XP). Programs requiring Windows NT 6.0 (Vista) or newer will likely not run. Current versions of Python do not work with ReactOS 0.4.x due to the Windows NT 5.2 API level. Consider trying an older version of the program you want to install that is still noted to work with Windows XP when using ReactOS.

NT 6.x API Windows Vista support is important as many programs, including open source programs, have left Windows NT 5.x unsupported and non-functional for their programs.